Wiveliscombe now has 13,479 solar panels – mostly installed over the last five years. They are on 70 local roofs, including both schools, there are two small ground-mounted installations and a solar farm hidden away on the edge of town.
Over the year, Wivey’s solar panels generate the equivalent of 59% of the domestic electricity used in the town council area.
Our solar output averages about 3,268 MWh or 3.27 million units every year, which saves about 1,750 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
This calculation is based on actual generation data supplied for 93% of the panels in Wivey and estimates for the others. Average domestic electricity consumption (4,228 units) comes from official statistics for Taunton Deane published by the Government and, with new house building, I estimate there are now 1,310 homes in the Wiveliscombe town area.
Of course, in practice, Wivey homes will not use all of the solar power we generate. Some will be exported through the grid to be used by others. At times, it’s possible we will generate all (100%) of the domestic electricity we use and, at other times and at night, we will generate none. So the 59% calculation just reflects what we generate and use on average over the year. Nevertheless, it’s impressive.
The same contribution could be made UK-wide and generation and use could be matched through storage. There are many options and technologies are improving fast. Pumped storage (moving water to reservoirs at high points to generate hydro-electricity when needed) is long proven, with large pumped storage stations established in Wales in the 1960s. Battery storage is developing fast and renewable energy could be used to power the production of biogas and biofuels, which can then be used when needed.